Who Is Liable for a Truck Accident?
There are over 170 truck accident fatalities reported in Georgia each year. Due to their massive size and weight, any collision involving a commercial motor vehicle is likely to result in catastrophic injuries and devastating losses. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in such an accident, you may be able to obtain restitution and closure by pursuing civil litigation.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the collisions, you may have grounds to file a claim against the following at-fault parties:
- Trucking company
- Cargo company
- Vehicle manufacturer
- Third-party driver
These entities – particularly the trucking company – may have deep wallets and aggressive corporate legal teams on staff. There is also the defendant’s insurer to consider: An insurance adjuster is trained to undermine a plaintiff’s claim for the purpose of saving their employer money. To secure damages, you’re going to need the services of an experienced personal injury attorney.
Black Box: Proving Negligence After a Truck Accident
The burden of proof is always on the plaintiff in a personal injury case. Your legal team needs to investigate the collision and collect evidence that proves 3 key facts: the at-fault party exhibited negligence; this act of negligence triggered the accident; you suffered physical, emotional, and/or financial losses as a consequence of the accident.
Fortunately, you can find this proof in the truck’s “black box,” which is also known as an electronic control module (ECM) or an event date recorder (EDR). Truck manufacturers started installing black boxes in the 1990s to circumvent warrants claims. Since then, these devices have served as critical evidence in personal injury cases because they are programmed to store information about a truck’s physical properties.
A truck’s black box can answer the following questions and more:
- Where was the vehicle at the time of the accident (GPS location)?
- How many traffic collisions has the truck been involved in?
- What was the vehicle’s speed prior to the collision?
- How often does the trucker speed above predetermined speed limits?
- Did the trucker suddenly accelerate or decelerate before the accident?
- Did the airbag deploy?
- What is the vehicle’s tire pressure?
- When – if ever – did the trucker apply the brakes?
- Was the trucker wearing a seat belt?
- Was the trucker using cruise control?
- How long as the trucker been driving?
- Is the trucker violating hour-of-service regulations?
- How often has the vehicle experienced “hard stops” and what was the RPM between stops?
The black box also records communications between the trucker and the trucking company. This data may reveal a history of mechanical problems, driver fatigue, federal violations, and other incriminatory evidence. For this reason, you need to contact an attorney A.S.A.P. after an accident. Otherwise, the data could be rewritten or mysteriously destroyed.
How Can I Recover Black Box Data?
ECMs and EDR’s are programmed to record over data after a certain amount of time, which is usually 30 days or less. Also, because trucking companies know that the information stored in a black box can lead to a costly settlement or verdict, they will not provide this data voluntarily. In fact, there have been cases of trucking companies prematurely destroying or rewriting data to avoid an unfavorable case outcome.
At Pratt Clay, LLC, our truck accident attorneys know how to recover, protect, and utilize black box data. We can send a spoliation letter to the trucking company that notifies them of your claim and warns them not to destroy any information stored in the black box. By working with experts, we can safely and effectively download the electronic data and prevent the company from “losing” the evidence. If the company refuses to abide by the spoliation letter, we can request a temporary restraining order to thwart any data tempering.
Call Pratt Clay, LLC to Explore Your Legal Options Today
Contact the truck accident lawyers at Pratt Clay, LLC if you require experienced and compassionate legal representation. Our skilled litigators can investigate the crash and take every step possible to procure the black box data. With our guidance, you can recover damages that provide for your financial recovery.